In this module students explore the risks of buying online and false or misleading offers and scams. They recognise the importance of getting information before making a financial decision.

Learning outcomes:

  • Students recognise the rules and regulations of consumer protection in a variety of contexts.
  • Students explore consumer protection in an authentic context.

Key concepts:

  • Consumer
  • Rights
  • Responsibilities
  • Laws and regulations
  • Consumer protection

Conceptual understanding:

  • Both consumers and retailers have rights and responsibilities.
  • Financial decision-making is influenced by local and global markets and advertising and affects the community.
  • Consumer protection rules and regulations cover goods and services purchased in New Zealand.

Word wall

Subject-specific vocabulary in module 4 includes:

Te reo PākēhaTe reo Māori
informed whaimōhio
review arotakenga
fraud hara taware
website pae tukutuku
A person with a good eye for detail kanohi hōmiromiro

1. Trick or truth?

Discuss with the class how, even after searching for information and making careful purchasing decisions, things can still go wrong. Scams and tricks will always be with us – think of Jack and the Beanstalk – so what can we do to avoid them?

Split the class into 3 “fraud squad” teams, with each team responsible for investigating one area of tricky retail territory:

  • False or misleading advertising
  • Online or private traders
  • Online shopping.

Have each team complete investigate these issues.

  • Can advertisers try to mislead consumers? Although there are strict legal guidelines, some advertisers can find ways around them to attract unwary customers. Check both contract and prepay information about call plans.
  • Are specific advertising techniques used to attract consumers? Check where products are placed, the size of the fonts used in advertising text, the colours used in advertising text, and the actors or celebrities used to advertise products.
  • Identify how advertisements draw consumers in. Discover the “fine print”, often text in a smaller font placed at the bottom of an advertisement or on another page of a flyer or catalogue.
  • Identify claims that are exaggerated. Consider whether this product will really do what the advertisement claims.
  • Do the images match the reality?
  • Are there any hidden costs?

Students can be “deal spies” and spot differences in the way the same product is displayed, described, and sold on different websites or catalogues.

Have each fraud squad arrange for an expert from a relevant organisation to speak to their class or the wider school community.

2. Buying from online auction sites

Online auction sites are popular outlets for buying second-hand goods. Discuss with the class ways we can lessen any risks when buying online.

Present this scenario.

Ruthie is selling her smartphone on Trade Me and describes it as a popular and expensive brand. Ramesh buys the phone for $300 but finds out when he gets it that it is in fact a counterfeit brand, worth only $100. What can Ramesh do?

Viewing the resources below, students can investigate this case for Ramesh and find out how to put it right.

Watch the Commerce Commissions series ‘It’s all good’: Episode 8 - Herman meets his match.